Guest Author | 02/14/2022 | Biking, Covered Bridges, History, Outdoor Recreation

See Covered Bridges in Corvallis by Bicycle

Covered bridges are standing reminders of times past when people traveled at a slower pace, when the journey could be as interesting as the destination.

The same holds true when seeking out Benton County’s three covered bridges on bikes. You won’t be crossing these classic structures unless you make the effort and pedal the distance. Once you get there, you’ll be reminded that Oregon’s history lives in these local wonders.

Irish Bend Covered Bridge, Corvallis, Oregon - A group of cyclists ride through the Irish Bend Covered Bridge in early spring, by Lainey MorseIrish Bend Covered Bridge, by Lainey Morse

The Irish Bend Covered Bridge was built in 1954 and originally spanned the Willamette Slough on Irish Bend Road near Monroe. The bridge was moved to its current location just west of the Oregon State University campus in 1989 and now crosses Oak Creek.

You can find the Irish Bend Covered Bridge on a lovely walking and cycling path located just off Campus Way (map), making this the nearest and easiest covered bridge to ride through. The roads to this bridge are all easy city riding with bike lanes, and the path to the bridge itself is an asphalt trail.

This asphalt trail, sometimes called the Campus Way Bike Path, is actually part of the larger Midge Cramer Multi-Use Path, so if you're in the mood for a longer ride, you can continue from the bridge, west along SW Campus Way, to pick the Midge Cramer Path up again near SW 53rd Street (map). You can follow the Midge Cramer Path to Bald Hill Natural Area, another great cycling and hiking location.

Harris Covered Bridge in Philomath, OregonHarris Bridge, by Lainey Morse

Benton County records show the Harris Bridge was built in 1936 but local lore says it may have been spanning the Marys River since 1929, according to the Covered Bridge Society of Oregon.

To find Harris Bridge, make your way by vehicle or bike to the tiny community of Wren (map), northwest of Philomath. Head west on Highway 20 from Philomath. If you’re riding your bike, be aware that Highway 20 is a busy roadway with fast-moving trucks. Some stretches offer wide shoulders but others do not.

Once you reach the junction of Highway 20 and Kings Valley Highway, turn right (north) and head into Wren. Go a short distance and turn right on Ritner Road. If you drive to Wren, this is the place to look for parking.

Turn right on Wren Road, then Harris Road, and you’re on your way. Follow this riverbed route to the Harris Bridge Vineyard (map) and the bridge. The final mile is gravel so you may consider bikes with wider tires.

Hayden Covered Bridge, near Alsea, Oregon - A historic white covered bridge crossing the Alsea River, surrounded by green trees with short white wooden fencing along the road leading up to it, by SandHayden Bridge, by Sandy Horvath-Dori, (CC BY 2.0)

There’s an easy way and a hard way to reach Hayden Bridge (map). For serious road cyclists, head west on Highway 34 from Philomath and ride 17 miles up and over the lower hills of Marys Peak. That gets you to the tiny town of Alsea. Two more miles and you’re there. Be aware: The ride includes about 1,000 feet of climbing, logging trucks and narrow, winding roads. We caution the casual rider to avoid this route.

The easy way to find the bridge is to drive to Alsea, park and start riding. The bridge is another 2 miles west on Highway 34 (Alsea Highway). There is no road sign for the bridge itself. When traveling from Alsea, watch for a “Hayden” street sign on the south side of the road. Eastbound from the coast? There’s no signage at all.

You will see the bridge from road – simply follow Hayden Road to it. The road turns to gravel on the other side of the bridge.

Hayden Bridge, crossing the Alsea River, is one of the oldest in the state, according to the Covered Bridge Society. There’s no stated year for original construction but records show the bridge was either partially or totally rebuilt in 1945.

Once you arrive, take a moment to enjoy the peace and quiet. Admire the view of the small river running below and think about simpler times when the Hayden Bridge was vital to the community.

Article by Dan Shryock and Marci Sischo. Featured Photo: Irish Bend Covered Bridge, by Lainey Morse. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our email newsletter.

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